Dear Women Leaders of Kenya,
I know I’m asking a rhetoric question but humour me all the same. Why do you feel or think that Martha Karua is not worthy enough of your precious time? I must admit that I am one of those Kenyans that has stopped looking forward to Prime Time news because it is inundated with politics, more politics and even more politics. But God bless those fantastic male and female athletes of ours, never a dull moment when they’re on the news, innit? So I’ve digressed, but it was only to give you time to manufacture a response to my question.
What am I going on about? Well, your conspicuous absence from any of Martha Karua’s public events, ofcourse! And most notably the official ceremony to launch her presidential bid in 2012. Even the media picked up on that and it definitely raised my half-asleep eyebrow. Your silence has indeed been deafening.
You claim to be representing women, championing gender equality, proud feminists and advocates of social justice yet you’ve missed every opportunity to stand up and be counted as among the other Kenyan women that would like to see another Kenyan woman ascend to the highest public position in the land.
What women leaders of Kenya am I talking about? Let’s start with Civil Society. It’s no secret that Women NGOs in this city outnumber Gor Mahia jerseys on game day yet none of the Chairpersons, CEOs, Executive Directors of these non-governmental, non-partisan organizations have come out to support Martha Karua. And when I say ‘support’ I mean acknowledge her existence, atleast. When I say support, I mean publicly explain to your NGO membership that Martha Karua, regardless of her party, remains a beacon of hope for all women and for that reason alone she cannot be ignored or cast aside as just another self-serving politician out to enrich herself from public office and promote her own personal interests. Her message, her principles, her vision for Kenya, are these things so opposed to your own mandate as Women NGOs? When your organizations go out to the rural corners of this great country in the name of grass-root training and civic education on issues pertaining to gender equality, who do you point to as a living embodiment that there is a growing wave of women empowerment in Kenya and that tide is indeed changing?
Over to you madame MP, as much as you claim to be representing your constituents, are you not a woman, do you not represent all women both within and without your constituency? So, why do begrudge your fellow woman MP your gracious support? I bet you are sitting there thinking: “What makes this Karua believe that all of a sudden she is the anointed presidential flagbearer for all women?” Innit? Well, I’m not an expert or anything but doesn’t leadership begin with anointing yourself as a leader first thereby inspiring others to follow you through your own courage of conviction?
Ultimately, the sad thing in both the case of Women NGOs and Women MPs is that it hurts them more than it hurts Martha Karua. Putting aside the disunity created among women and youth voters, Women NGOs in particular are proving that they are not as independent as they claim to be, that they have become partisan in matters of politics, that they have their own political preferences that supercede their primary function as non-governmental organizations serving the interests of women in Kenya. As for the women MPs (nominated or otherwise), we know that you have to tow the Party line but show some backbone for goodness sake and atleast acknowledge your fellow colleague, and if your Party decides to throw you out because of it, so be it, join Martha’s and march boldly towards a newer, brighter Kenya.
In the meantime, there are men, literally tons of them, who’ve come out openly and admitted that although they have their own candidates, they admire Martha Karua’s courage (something about balls of steel..something, something) and ofcourse the positive role-model she is not only to the women and the youth, but the country as a whole. This may not seem like much, but its definitely a lot more than what the so-called Women Leaders of this country are doing. Your silence and continued absence speaks volumes.
Just a thought.